Saturday, April 05, 2014

Gujarat OBC Muslims' 1.9 per cent poverty in 2011-12 is based on NSSO's sample size of five households!

Arvind Panagariya
By Our Representative
In a major goof-up, the Government of India’s National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) chose just about five households as a sample in order to assess monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of OBC Muslims of rural Gujarat. While a senior Gujarat-based activist has characterized this as a “deliberate statistical fraud”, what has made the matter particularly serious is, overlooking the small sample size, top economist Arvind Panagariya of the Columbia University has calculated that rural Gujarat’s poverty levels came down to 7.7 per cent in 2011-12 from 31 per cent in 2004-05, and the reason for this is high rise in the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
Known for his neo-liberal approach, Prof Panagariya, in a recent study, “Poverty by Social, Religious & Economic Groups in India and Its Largest States: 1993-94 to 2011-12”, done jointly with Vishal More, has happily said that in the rural areas, “Gujarat leads with the lowest poverty ratio of 7.7 per cent for the Muslims.” The figures, which he has worked out on the basis of NSSO’s unreleased data on MPCE of religious groups, suggest that Gujarat’s rural poverty has gone down so drastically that it has reached even lower than Kerala (eight per cent)! 
Prof Panagariya is known for his closeness to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. In a recent rejoinder to “The Economist”, he justified Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots saying they should not be called a “pogrom” but just riots. In a letter, jointly written with Columbia University’s Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, also of the neo-liberal school, he said, there is “no basis” in the involvement of Modi in the riots, as no evidence has been found against him by the special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court.
Amitabh Kundu
Based on the sample size of five households, Gujarat's OBC Muslims' poverty ratio has been worked out at at just 1.9 per cent in 2011-12, down from 40.5 per cent in 2004-05 (click HERE for report). The NSSO’s "blunder" on Gujarat rural poverty has come to light, following the Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Amitabh Kundu’s analysis of state-level poverty data. 
Prof Kundu has been heading a committee appointed by Government of India to assess the condition of Muslims in India over the last seven years, following implementation of the Sachar Committee report of 2006 on the state of minorities India. The committee recently submitted its draft report to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.
While recognizing that the Gujarat data suggest -- when analysed “in the context of the changes in employment structure and other macro economic variables, comparing these with the changes in other similar states” – that “there has been sharp poverty reduction during 2004-05 to 2011-12 in the country and specifically in the state of Gujarat”, he has underlined, there is a “high standard error” because of an extremely small sample size for rural Gujarat’s OBC.
He told Counterview, the sample size for OBC Muslims is five in 2011-12 and 25 in 2004-5 in Gujarat. For total Muslims also, the size is much below the acceptable level and with high standard error. Not just Gujarat, for a few other states, too, the sample is below ten! 
Overall, too, the sample size of Muslims (OBC Muslims plus Other Muslims) taken together is extremely small, hence it is impossible to reach a conclusion. This is one reason, the committee under him has “not used the state-level NSS data for drawing inferences regarding the conditions of the Muslims.”

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